Welcome to a new series of blog posts which aims to help you to plan your music effectively for your wedding day. There will be a new post every week. The first of the series focuses on how to most effectively use live music in the afternoon.

For many couples live music is a staple of the ceremony. It lifts the atmosphere from good to outstanding. Once your ceremony is over a live musician is a fantastic addition to the afternoon. It gives guests something to enjoy and if your musician is exceptional, they can foster relationships with your guests, playing their requests and lifting the atmosphere of the day. There are two major events after the ceremony; the drinks reception and the meal which are both a similar length of time. I will discuss the pros and cons of utilising live music in either of these parts of the event.

The Drinks Reception

Steven Heath entertaining guests at a drinks reception, Copyright Colin Murdoch Studio 2017

Typically the drinks reception is a time for your guests to mingle while the venue staff prepare your room for the meal and the photographer takes photos of you. They are typically 90 to 120 minutes long. As you can imagine this can be a long time for guests to be waiting around so a live musician can fill in this time with relaxing music, interaction with guests and working on raising the atmosphere of the day.

If you are having your photos in the same place as where the photographer is shooting then live music can provide an effective soundtrack for that time period.

The effectiveness of this can depend on the setup of your venue. Typically a photographer will want to take lots of shots during this period so if the best place to do this is away from where the musician will be playing you may find that you miss the chance to enjoy the live music. If however you are having photos in the same place as where the photographer is shooting then live music can provide an effective soundtrack for that time period. Below is a list of the pros and cons of using live music in the drinks reception.


  • Your guests are occupied and interacted with
  • Creates a great atmosphere during a time of ‘mingling’
  • If photographs are there it’s a great soundtrack
  • Perfect inside during bad weather


  • If your photographs are elsewhere you will miss the music
  • Can be interrupted by photographers wanting to get group shots

The Meal

Like the drinks reception, the meal can last around 120 minutes. Live music during the meal can create a wonderful atmosphere either as a chilled out background feature or something more raucous to get the crowd up and dancing. It also gives guests something to concentrate on when conversation dries up. To advantage of utilising live music during your meal is that it also allows you to be a captive audience as oppose to the drinks reception where you can be distracted.

Questions to ask yourself

Before you make a decision on whether to have live music during the drinks reception or the wedding meal here are a few questions which can help you.

  • Is it more important to us that our guests are occupied during the drinks reception or that we can enjoy the music during the meal?
  • Do we already have something in place to occupy guests during the drinks reception?
  • Are our photographs going to be somewhere else in the venue which will take us away from the live music?
  • Do we want a chilled out atmosphere during the meal or do we want people singing along?
  • Is our venue so big that if we have live music during the drinks reception the guests may go elsewhere?

I hope this article has given you some indication of whereabouts in the day you would like to have live music. I can help you shape this if you book my services. Get in touch for a consultation.

Photo credits:

Header image: Project Valentine

Article image: Colin Murdoch Studio

Article image 2: Luke Holroyd Photography